Saturday, March 31, 2012

The First Japanese Kongs!

Lost films are always a lure, especially when they feature iconic characters. London After Midnight is probably the most famous lost film. But I just learned of two more, Japanese movies from the early 1930's which by reputation are knockoffs of the RKO classic King Kong.

Their titles are Wasei Kingu Kongu ("Japanese King Kong")from 1933 and Edo Ni Arawareta Kingu Kongu ("King Kong Appears In Edo")from 1938. The poster above is for the latter, a period film which has the giant ape attacking Medieval Tokyo (Edo). The first movie is apparently a straightforward rehash of the classic Kong story.

Legend says both movies were lost in the Atomic Bomb attacks, ironic if true given the later Kaiju tradition beginning with Gojira, but it's likely merely a tantalizing legend.

I'd love to see these lost classics, but even knowing about them is intriguing. And they a special quality to the later 1963 King Kong kaiju when he finally takes on Godzilla, giving him a tradition which pre-dates his fire-breathing opponent even.

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Divided We Stand!

I'm a Kentucky native, so as you might imagine, I'm probably going to watch a wee bit of basketball later today when two longtime instate rivals The University of Kentucky Wildcats and The University of Louisville Cardinals clash in a battle for a place in the 2012 NCAA Championship Game.

I don't watch much if any basketball, but I'll be making an exception for this one. There's no love lost between these two programs and from what I can glean the coaches absolutely hate one another. The two schools have been playing one another for nearly a hundred years. Here's a look at those results. It should be an epic contest.

Regardless, the Commonwealth will stand.

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Tanks For The Memories!

Joe Jusko

Fred Ray

Here's an energetic homage by Joltin' Joe Jusko using a vintage Fred Ray Superman cover as inspiration.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

From A To Z!

Getting twenty-five stories is a great deal, and not one you'd be able to find in today's market for a mere quarter by any means, but shouldn't there be twenty-six stories included. Just saying!

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bizarre Thrills!

I admire Bill Black's AC Comics, if for no other reason than Bill and his gang keep plugging away making comics in all environments good, bad and indifferent. AC Comics was one of the earliest Indy publishers when the direct sales market opened up in the early 80's. Bill Black though was in a very strong position then to move because he'd been publishing comics under his Paragon banner for over a decade before.

Paragon Publications were typically magazine-size and black and white publications with offbeat mono-color covers. The interiors features early versions of Black creations such as Captain Paragon, Tara of the Dark Continent, Scarlet Scorpion, Synethesia The Girl LSD, The Shade, a revised Phantom Lady (who became both Nightveil and Blue Bulleteer ultimately) and others. Alongside vintage reprints of classic comics these new heroes and heroines fought strange battles, often with a singularly sexual subtext in title after title.

When Black and his comrades started AC Comics, they rebooted these heroes re-utilizing and re-purposing much of the original artwork and created another slightly more coherent universe which still lives and grows today.

Now at long last, those Paragon stories are getting a reprint treatment all their own, in their original forms as those early versions of these heroes get to speak at last in their original voices. The volume Bizarre Thrills - The Paragon Publictions Story should be an intriguing glimpse of a real comics pioneer and his earliest attempts to make comics the appealed not only to himself but to other fans as well.

Here's a gallery of some vintage Paragon publications. I've been collecting these off and on for years now, and don't have all of them by any means, but those I do own are energetic and entertaining regardless of the questionable taste some exhibit.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Lack Of Spirit!

When The Spirit was released several years ago, I was hopeful that some of Will Eisner's greatest creation would be translated to the screen. I'm not naive enough to imagine that the translation would be seamless or that I'd be completely happy, but I held out hope that given a solid comic book man like Frank Miller was in charge, that the essence of the character would remain.

I hoped in vain.

But hope springs eternal and when I found a copy of the movie super cheap, I picked it up thinking that maybe my memory was faulty and that I'd like it better now, after all these years.

I was wrong again.

The Spirit we meet on the screen is a mopey self-absorbed hipster who bounces around town in his overly stylish tennis shoes like a noir Spider-Man. He's got some fetish for "his city" and waxes on endlessly about how he and the city are connected. That would be okay, save that this connection is largely ignored after a long set up.

As bad though as The Spirit is, the Octopus is a disaster. The mysterious unseen villain of the comics is transformed into a loquacious maniac who kills for sheer delight. Both he and the Spirit it seems have been transformed into supermen of a sort and battle each other out of some grand ennui which more than anything else seems to inform this culture. The city and its occupants seem bored and the audience cannot be far behind.

The women are beautiful, the filmmaking is at least stylish and visually arresting in places, but overall The Spirit as imagined by Frank Miller rambles too far from the source material and finds itself lost. It's a rather dull story actually with some clever set pieces which after it's all said and done don't add up to a good movie.

It's a shame really. Will never saw it. That's probably a blessing.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Dell Hall Of Heroes!

Nukla makes one other appearance outside his four-issue series for Dell, and that's as a statue in the "Dell Hall of Heroes" seen in the debut issue of Superheroes which came out from Dell a year or so after Nukla was cancelled and was drawn by Nukla creator Sal Trapani.

Nukla is an exhibit in the Hall and is seen by the four kids who will soon discover four android bodies which will enable them to become the heroes El, Hy, Crispy, and Polymer Polly.

Alongside Nukla is Kona, Monarch of Monster Island

and Toka, Jungle King.

If those kids had not gotten so fascinated by the four androids, they might've continued into other wings of the Hall of Heroes and found these Dell stalwarts.

And maybe in a wing dedicated to offbeat baddies even this guy.

The greatest field trip ever!

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Going Nukla!

Dick Giordano & Rocke Mastoserio

Dick Giordano & Sal Trapani

Dick Giordano & Sal Trapani

Steve Ditko & Sal Trapani

I would argue that no "Action Hero" collection is complete without Dell's Nukla series. The "Action Heroes" were the brainchild of Dick Giordano at Charlton and included the likes of a low-power Captain Atom, a revised Blue Beetle, Judomaster, Peacemaker, and Thunderbolt. It was the brightest of moments in Charlton's long history, and one fondly remembered by many fans.

But Sal Trapani and his partner and brother-in-law Dick Giordano also produced the four-issue series for Dell titled Nukla. This project, which looks for all the world like a Charlton comic of the era, showcases the artistic storytelling of Giordano, Trapani, and in the last issue even Steve Ditko. Charlton stalwart Joe Gill scripts each and every issue. (Ironic since Gill and Ditko created Captain Atom for Charlton, who Nukla resembles more than a little.) This comic has all the earmarks of a full-blown Charlton comic, it just happens to have "Dell" in the corner.

For the record, I've always thought that Rocke Mastroserio was at least partially responsible for the artwork on the debut cover, but the original suggests it's the work of Giordano and Trapani. Hmmm.

Check them out Charlton fans. You'll be glad you did.

Here's a sample of what you'll find. This is a great sequence from the debut issue.

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Charlton Spotlight!

Mike Ambrose's CHARLTON SPOTLIGHT #7 is out and is highly recommended for all fans of the late great Charlton Comics company. It's been a few years since the last issue, but it's well worth the wait.

The focus this issue is an interview with Bronze Age editor George Wildman, the man who oversaw the second great rise of the company and the debut of fan-fave titles like Staton's and Cuti's E-Man, Byrne's Doomsday+1, and Howard's Midnight Tales.

The issue also features Paul Kupperberg's reflection the career of the other great Charlton editor, Dick Giordano, the man who fathered the "Action Hero" line featuring Ditko's Blue Beetle, PAM's Thunderbolt, McLaughlin's Judomaster, and others. There are other features as well, including a letter (ta da) from yours truly.

So check it out. Mike will appreciate the business.

And here are the earlier issues of this significant fan magazine.

FALL 2000



FALL 2005

FALL 2006

FALL 2008

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